The Trail Smoke Eaters launched the bus on Thursday as the team embarks on one of its longest road trips of the season to play the Prince George Spruce Kings tonight.
“It was the first weekend to get the kinks out,” said Smokies captain Garrett McMullen. “A lot of new guys playing together, so it was tough to gel with the new lines, we had trouble scoring.”
The team will be facing a different Spruce Kings team from last year but one no less formidable. In August, the Spruce Kings traded away triplets Leo, Myles, and Gerry Fitzgerald to the Victoria Grizzlies for Coltyn Hansen, Cam Lawson, David London and future considerations.
The Kings began their season by winning their opening two games against Merritt 4-0 and Langley 6-5, thanks largely to the line of Hansen, Lawson and Lyndon Martell who returns to Prince George after playing two seasons with the Regina Pats of the WHL.
In two exhibition season games against the Spruce Kings, Trail played them close, losing 2-1 and 4-0, but McMullen believes the team will be better prepared this weekend.
“This week of practice was good. We got the lines working together. We worked on special teams and some flow drills, just getting the team more gelled together.”
On Saturday, Trail will take on the Merritt Centennials who they lost to 4-1 Sunday.
Smoke Signals: Local products, rookies Scott Davidson and Jake Lucchini of Trail, cracked the Smokies roster and are looking forward to the new season.
Lucchini made the jump along with Fruitvale’s Mitch Foyle from Major Midget Kootenay Ice to the Junior A Smokies squad, and after receiving a stick to the mouth from Centennials forward Sebastien Pare that relieved him of a few teeth and earned him several stitches, the 17-year-old is as keen as ever to hit the ice.
“Its definitely a lot more high tempo, a whole different atmosphere,” said Lucchini. “It’s good, it’s very fast hockey.”
Davidson had a great camp, and committed to Quinnipiac University early last week and after missing much of last season with the Beaver Valley Nitehawks due to injury, he was a little surprised at stepping into the Smokies line-up.
“The knees pretty good almost 100 percent,” he said. “But the intensity is a lot higher, you can’t take a shift off, and the physical play, all the guys are big and strong and fast.”
Trail’s opening game goes Sept. 21 at 7:30 as they host the West Kelowna Warriors at the Cominco Arena.